On Mandated Multiplexes, Vancouver Somehow Does Less than the Bare Minimum

Kits Point and Shaughnessy are both centrally located neighbourhoods that have extremely restrictive zoning. But when Vancouver legalized multiplexes last year, both these neighbourhoods were EXCLUDED. 

Now the Province is stepping in and making Vancouver legalize multiplexes in these areas. While we’re happy the Province is making the City do something, the bottom line is that multiplexes aren’t nearly good enough in these areas.

Look at Kits Point. It is minutes away from Downtown, and right beside it the Squamish Nation is building 6,000 homes on just 11 acres at Senakw. That shows what housing demand in that area actually is. While the Squamish Nation is busy building thousands of homes, the City has to be dragged against its will to legalize just 3 or 4 homes on a lot.

4750 Granville Street

A small apartment building under construction in (Second) Shaughnessy

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Let's Support Homes at the Jericho Lands!

Let’s Show Some Support to the Jericho Lands!

After five years of planning and consultation, the Jericho Lands Policy Statement is finally coming to Vancouver Council on Wednesday, January 24, 2024. This is the time to show your support for this exciting and forward-looking proposal!

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Vancouver Needs a Shaughnessy Plan… and So Does Shaughnessy!

ShaughnessyFuture2.jpg

An important motion will be considered by Vancouver City Council on Wednesday, to initiate the process to update zoning policies in the Shaughnessy neighbourhood. Your voice is needed; jump to the end of this post to see how to contact Council to express your support.

Shaughnessy is a historic area of Vancouver, but fewer people have been enjoying that heritage as the population has consistently dropped over the past half century, and many heritage houses have been replaced with new mansions anyway. In fact, despite starting with the lowest population density of any neighbourhood, it shrank more than any other neighbourhood in the last census count.

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Transit-Oriented Development and Proximity to Jobs:

The provincial government just announced they are mandating zoning for apartments near SkyTrain stations. This is sensible, the SkyTrain network is a big public investment and more people living near stations will allow many of them to use cars less, or not own a car at all.

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Multiplexes? MEH.

Multiplexes? 🤷 Meh

On September 14, 2023, Vancouver will hold a public hearing for the proposed multiplex policy. If approved, plexes between 3 to 6 units, depending on the size of the lot, will be allowed in theory across the city’s RS (“single family”) zones.

Click HERE to skip to our sample letter to Vancouver City Council.

And click HERE to our sample letter for your local MLA.

AHV has been advocating for multiplexes (and more) for years. We supported the City’s move to allow duplexes in 2018, partly because allowing multiplexes appeared to be the obvious next step – one that might come quickly. But we also knew then what is even more obvious now: Vancouver needs to legalize apartments everywhere. We cannot afford policy baby steps when the housing crisis is growing by leaps and bounds.

The range of missing middle housing (includes apartments)

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Douglas Park Daycare

The city recently rejected 8 badly needed daycare spots right by Douglas Park, and we need your help to fight back so this doesn't happen again.

Are you looking for daycare? If you are, you know how hard it is to find in Vancouver.

Vancouver is a "childcare desert" -- one of the worst in Canada! There's an estimated shortage of at least 15,000 daycare spots.

This puts the squeeze on families who are trying to build a life in Vancouver. And a lack of childcare disproportionately harms women and makes it difficult for them to maintain their careers.

Combined with housing unaffordability, no wonder so many neighbourhoods in Vancouver are seeing big decreases in the amount of kids living in them! Families are being driven out of the city.

You'd think the city would be doing everything it could to encourage more daycare. Instead, Byzantine city by-laws make it virtually impossible to open new daycare spots.

Even worse, the city prioritizes NIMBY complaints over the needs of families.

Read on below to learn about how NIMBYs fought to kill daycare spots at Douglas Park, and why this example is just a symptom of a larger problem. There's a tl;dr at the end you can jump to.

Or, jump to our SAMPLE EMAIL YOU CAN USE TO HELP FIGHT BACK!

(And don't forget to sign up to our email list to keep up to date on opportunities to advocate for a better Vancouver!)

 

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Jericho Will Be Loved by 7 Generations. We Also Need It Now

TL;DR

Your support is needed to bring the MST Nations plan for ʔəy̓alməxʷ/Iy̓álmexw (Ee-’YUL-mough), AKA the Jericho Lands, to fruition. Fill out the City's engagement survey here by July 15. We recommend:

  • "really like it" for all answers (even if you want to see more, as lesser support will be interpreted as wanting less).
  • Question 9: Mention that the single-family area on the South side of 8th Ave should be rezoned for apartments; buildings on the Jericho site should not have to "transition" to detached houses so close to a SkyTrain station. More housing and amenities should be allowed at Jericho than what is proposed.
  • Question 13: Something like "This plan is an inspired vision that addresses the urgent need to build more housing in complete, active, vibrant neighbourhoods. Please expedite this and the SkyTrain extension so that it can be built ASAP." "I want to live here"
  • Say whatever else you think, but don't forget to mention what you like! It will be a very green, open site that is permeable to pedestrians and active transit. Underground parking will likely be accessed at the perimeter, limiting traffic and providing a much better pedestrian experience.

See further resources at the end of this post.

What are the Jericho Lands? What is the Plan?

Overhead View of Jericho Site Area

ʔəy҆alməxʷ/Iy҆álmexw/Jericho Lands has always been a place of arrival and kinship. Before colonization, we welcomed people here for trade, bartering, and gathering. Welcome figures stood at places of arrival, while house posts at the entrances of homes told visitors which families lived here.

Even though our ancestors were forced to leave, ʔəy᾽ alməxʷ/Iy᾽ álmexw/Jericho Lands will be a place that welcomes all. We are resilient. The neighbourhood will let people know that this is our land, and we are here to share it with others. [page 43 of info boards PDF]

The Jericho Lands are 90 acres of lightly-developed land in the West Point Grey neighbourhood, between Downtown and UBC, with easy access to the growing jobs centre on Broadway. The site concept (PDF) is to create a vibrant new SkyTrain-oriented community with 13,000 homes, lots of open space, and good connectivity for pedestrians and active transport users, complete with park space, public school, supermarket, retail, jobs space, and even a hotel. It will be welcoming to all and be a low-carbon community and Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh "symbols, patterns, artwork, and language would be
embedded throughout all aspects of the neighbourhood."

Is This Plan High Density?

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Vancouver's Missing Middle Initiative Misses the Mark

Too Little Middle, Much Too Late

It was almost 5 years ago now that a then Vision-majority City Council, already frustrated at the lack of progress on "missing middle" housing policies, formally asked planners to bring forward proposals to allow more housing choices, from tri-plexes to small apartment buildings, in Vancouver's vast swathes of low-density RS (single-family detached house) zones. Planners have now finally presented a proposal for discussion, and, after such a long wait, it is an extraordinary disappointment.

"Missing Middle" includes duplexes through small apartment buildings

The proposal is to allow up to four homes on a standard 33'-wide lot, and up to 6-plexes on 50'-wide or larger lots. Low-rise apartments and townhouses would still be banned outright on most of the city's residential land, as they are today. The homes would be sold off individually under strata title (i.e. like condos). This has the potential to be much more viable than purpose-built rental policies, as rental buildings have much lower value than condo buildings, and plexes generally lack the economies of scale of larger rental buildings.

The Good

The policy may allow a homeowner to pay a "density bonus" fee in lieu of providing a below-market home on-site. These fees can be used to build equivalent housing, better targeted to those in need of non-market housing. A requirement for an on-site below-market unit is appealing because it could help create mixed-income neighbourhoods, but it would be much less flexible as both the size of the unit and the subsidy would have to be targeted to what the buyers of the market-rate units are willing & able to subsidize. The greatest advantage of charging fees instead is that they can be adjusted annually to ensure the program stays viable, thus ensuring that both market and below-market homes are actually getting built.

The proposal would also make it optional to include more than one parking spot, basically letting the market decide, or may even set a maximum on parking spaces.

The Bad

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Congratulations to Minister Kahlon

See our open letter to the newly-appointed Honourable Ravi Kahlon, MLA, Minister of Housing:

Link (PDF)

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Support Social Housing: Skip Rezonings

There’s an exciting opportunity for you to support non-profit, social, and co-op housing in the City of Vancouver. Rezoning applications are extremely expensive for non-profit housing operators – about $500,000 to $1 million! That’s public money that would be better spent on housing! 

On December 6, a motion is going to council that would reduce those costs by letting non-profit housing in some existing apartment areas go through a streamlined process. There would still be opportunities for community feedback and participation, but it would be a quicker and cheaper staff-led, as opposed to political, process.

Social Housing Rendering at 1766 Frances St

During the recent election, Mayor Sim and his ABC party pledged to support removing rezonings for social housing up to 12 storeys in multi-family areas and 6 in other residential areas, when asked by Women Transforming Cities. This motion is a key part of fulfilling that promise, but your support is needed to make sure it passes!

The motion is called “B2. Reducing Barriers and Deepening Affordability for Non-Profit, Co-op and Social Housing in Every Neighbourhood”. We’ll provide a sample letter you can use at the end of this email, but personalized letters are more effective! You can use this link to email Mayor and Council, or use this feedback form. Better yet, you can register to speak in support! The motion goes to council this Tuesday, December 6, so please write in before then! Speakers will probably be heard on December 7.

This is your first big opportunity to let the new Mayor and Council know how important it is that they act on the housing crisis. Let’s speak up in support of more affordable housing!

____________

Sample E-mail (customize it with your own stories / suggestions / etc., if desired)

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Open Letter to Premier Eby from Pro-Housing Orgs

This week, Abundant Housing Vancouver joined with other pro-housing organizations around the province to encourage Premier David Eby to take strong action on housing, especially regarding the points in his housing platform from the NDP leadership race.

You can find our open letter in PDF format here.

Alternatively, the full text is below.

Pro-Housing Org Logos

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